AWD #282: Sacrifices of War
AWD #282: Sacrifices of War
Summary: Knox accompanies Kostas on her emergency leave to Picon, and gets yet another glimpse into what she's lost in the Picon resistance.
Date: 17 Oct 2013
Related Logs: []
Knox Kostas 
Unnamed Base on Picon
One of Spree's bases on Picon, location of a triage center swiftly overwhelmed by mounting casualties of the offensive in the mountains.
AWD #282

With the campaign still active in the mountains, the hangar and just the skies in general are probably pretty busy. Luckily, though, there's a flight out to the base where probably more casualties from the ground are likely to be airlifted to. Kostas looks a damn sight better than she did when they first were evacuated. Her neck's just got an ugly line of stiches and tape instead of bandages and drainage tubes, and her hand's just bandaged rather than immobilized and splinted, but she's still not completely looking like herself just yet. She's made it down to the aircraft all right though, with Knox beside her to offer a hand if necessary. "'Preciate it, Knox," she offers gruffly but quietly. "Once we get down there, if you got folks you need ta see for other stuff, feel free. Told it might take some time, but I guess we see when we get there."

Knox rides with her, the Sergeant carrying most of the gear either of them might need. He doesn't load down with it, though, as to make it obvious she's not quite up to full steam. Just a combat vest and a rifle. "Not a problem, sir. And no, don't worry about it. I'm not going to bother going anywhere. I'd probably get my ass shot if I even tried." The last is said with a dark smile on his face.

"Ain't that th' one place th' canners missed, Sarge?" Kostas asks, innocently enough, though she grunts as she swings up into the bird and as preparations take place aroud them. "Sure ya don't want t' go for balancin' stuff out?" She clips in as she can, rubbing at the bridge of her nose a bit. She seems perfectly happy at the chance to get off her feet for a few though—most likely the walk from sickbay to the hangar's the longest one she's done since they got back. "You heard any word, 'bout how tricks're playin' down there?"

"Har, har. Asshole," Knox mutters with a laughing roll of his eyes. Coop follows her movements and shakes his head at the offering. "You focus on getting back to full power so you can stay in the lead, I'll lug some stuff. Besides, what good is the strength if I can't use it to help out a fellow Marine." The JTAC looks around and shakes his head to her final question. "Nothin I haven't already passed-on to you all, sir. I relay everything I get. If it helps you, it helps me."

"Don't name a target for 'em now, that's askin' for divine intervention." Kostas closes her eyes for a moment, as the flight crew makes their final preparations and everything else that's going to be loaded up is loaded up. "Heard I got a folder 'r something waitin' for me when I get back, suspiciously photo sized. Wonder if we get t' see a little payback? Be nice, t' share with folks, I think." She grins. Still, there's a touch of…nerves? Or something else, as the hatch is closed.

Coop flashes a middle finger and a grin. Typical Marine bullshit back and forth. He settles in the seat beside her and nods slowly. "I heard something about an envelope but no idea what it might be. As long as its not orders to return to that damned office building I think I won't have to go AWOL." He kicks his feet out and relaxes with a yawn. He glances over at the twitch and just nods. He noticed. He wants her to know he noticed. But Coop isn't going to actually say anything unless she wants to.

Kostas closes her eyes for the drop, but then they're hauling ass towards that base, and she rights them. Without the full body armor, and at only 90 percent smartass capacity while still recovering, it is perhaps a little easier to see how small she is, in perspective to what you'd expcet for a boots-on-the-ground marine…even if being full of attitude and piss and vinegar puts up a nice front most days. It's an odd mixture, of marine cockiness vs. the person Knox saw in the chapel awhile ago…and the closer they get to touching down, the more it favors the latter. Not weak per se, but a softer edge. Easing of the mask. Finally they touch down, and it's by rote that she moves. Unclip, unweb, pull up to a stand, check (much lighter) gear. A comfort, even though her heel taps a little, waiting for the hatch.

Coop doesn't seem to pay too much attention to her, more to the surroundings and other passengers. He's the doberman not to be crossed while he guards his injured leader. Grr. Landing, though, he rises easily and slings the rifle over his shoulder and offers an arm to her, on the down-low, in case she needs it. Its only then that the man looks down to her and nods slowly. "Everything kopasetic, sir?" he asks conversationally. It obviously runs deeper than that.

"'S well as it's gonna be," Kostas remarks, hopping down a bit stiffly, and taking the arm until her boots are on the ground. In the flurry of activity in the hanger, it'd be easy to miss - nobody's really paying attention to yet another unloading of passengers and cargo. There is, however, a burst of activity across the bay, where another raptor is coming in, a medical team waiting. When the door opens, there's some chewed up marines waiting. "Not 'xactly sure where they settin' up but…" the organized chaos catches Silvia's eyes and she nods in that direction. "Might follow them, I guess, they get us close 'nough." She shakes her head slightly. "Shoulda taken th' scrip with me," she smirks ruefully. "Forgot how much a bird shakes ya."

Coop watches the goings-on carefully, but sticks by the Ensign. He had to do his own bit of signing for her so he's not going far. "Me, either. I don't come down here a lot. According to Petra, Spree doesn't want me on Picon. I don't think anyone seems to care at this point, though, sir." Given the scars on his face and head, he's looking less like a Six and more like a slow-cooked Marine dropped into a combat blender. "Yeah, might've been a good move. Maybe they have something here." Unnnlikely. But he gestures for her to lead the way.

The med staff here is probably used to the ebb and flow of casualties, but the number of concentrated forces on both sides that's going on right now is pushing things to the limit. The treatment and triage areas can probably be heard and smelled long before they round the corner. Kostas keeps her gait even, her face neutral. But in her own way she too is watching others like a hawk. Knox does probably blend in more than he once would have, but her dark eyes are oddly protective and vigilant. As much as she both does and doesn't want to be here, having one of "her" people here is a touchstone…and it shows. Still they reach the administrative "desk" as it is without incident. Though it's really not hard to spot who it is that they're coming to see.

In a sea of armor and uniforms, there's a thin figure on one of the treatment beds that's been pushed to the side. There's only a morphine drip hooked up now, and a ventilator. The other tubes and gadgets have been removed, even the monitors have been moved elsewhere. But somebody's cleaned up the months of tape and plasters, washed her face, combed the beginnings of scruffy blonde hair growth on her head. The girl is thin in the way a young teen who's been receiving just life-sustaining nutrition via IV will rapidly get, a little sign of atrophy in her face and the arm that's out wit the drip. There's an ugly seam of stitching healing across her scalp, bruises still healing on her cheek. But still, she is beautiful in the way that all children on the cusp of young-adulthood are: a bud, a promised blooming. Knox may be able to hear Silvia's breath catch, but there's a flicker of a smile there too, and a relieved one. They're not too late.

Knox does his best to blend in, keeping his head low but sticking to Kostas. The rifle over his shoulder and the fact that he's got an 'escort', combined with a rather public tribunal, seems to help. He weaves through the sea of bodies and people, wrinkling his nose at the smells. It gets you every time. He sighs and as they approach the bed in the corner he comes up slowly and stops beside the officer. He stares down at the girl and for a moment its just a blank expression. Slowly, though, it starts to give way. The man takes a hard swallow. Now more than ever its obvious that this Sergeant isn't Billy Badass.

"Hey, baby doll." Kostas leans over, to offer a gentle rub to the scrubby hair over the one patch of scalp that hasn't been torn up. "Sorry I couldn't get here before, had t' go kick some ass. Too bad you wasn't along, neh? Coupla more an' you've had th' team record, I think. Didn't find shit, though. Guess I didn't have yer radar eyes this time." One of the orderlies detatches from somewhere else, heading over probably to unhook the ventilator. But for all the hustle and bustle, he seems to be taking his time. "I got someone with me, Piper. Sergeant Knox. He ain't as cute as El-Tee though." She takes the frail hand in hers, turns it over, brushes her thumb across the palm. There's a smile and a calm in her voice, but it doesn't reach the dark eyes as she looks at Piper. Those are weary, drawn.

Cooper stares at this wounded kid, all shot up on a vent and laying here like this. To look at the man, this cuts him deep. There's pictures of kids all over the inside of his bunk. Watching Kostas with the girl just breaks his heart and his shoulders slump a bit. Its one thing to fight along side people and see them wounded, its another to- well, to see this. Knox moves closer to the bed and stands at the end by the girl's feet and stares at that damaged head. He opens his mouth like he might say something but he finds himself a little lacking. The orderly is noted but Coop probably doesn't quite know what to make of it. "What happened to her?" he finally whispers to the officer.

Silvia's gravelly voice is uncustomarily quiet, the cadence soothing, regardless of the words. It's the touch she concentrates on, gently but firmly stroking each finger and the girl's palm and then reaching out to stroke one of the sunken cheeks. "We was pinned down in one of the offenses," she explains. "Things went t' shit inna hurry. Had t' hold a supply station that was comin' under heavy fire. They came a little earlier'n expected, so the second team couldn't get t' us right away, an' then we got some artillery on us. We held for a couple'a hours, cavalry showed up in time t' keep the depot but-" She shakes her head. "Maybe if we had a medic…she was close t' the shell when it went off. LT an' the others absorbed most've it, and she had some cover but by the time we evac'ed, was the bleedin' from the inside that they couldn't stop. Lost almost all of 'em that was still in one piece by the time we touched back down."

Yeah, it was easier to just not know what happened. He listens and his gaze drifts from the Ensign and back down to the girl. He looks at that damaged face and the blond hair, then looking the rest of her over before his eyes fall to just stare at the blanket. "Gods," he breathes. This wasn't what he was expecting when he got ready to head to Picon. The Six reaches up to his collar and removes one of his rank pins and hands it over to Kostas while he looks back to that face. "She's not going to live, is she?"

"No," is Kostas' blunt reply, but she doesn't cease the contact. She doesn't know if Piper is capable of really even connecting what she hears to anything meaningful, but touch, touch is a primal sense, something to show presence even when most everything else is destroyed. "She been blacktagged from day one, and now…" She looks away from the girl for a moment, at the influx of wounded and the spectre of more to come. "They gotta save those that can, an' prioritize. Not everyone get t' make the decisions their heart wants 'em t' make." There is, perhaps, the first trace of bitterness there, of grief. "There ain't no awards for civvies, an' I'm guessin' th' powers that be'd beyond Picon, an' maybe even some of *them* don't really wanna think about what they askin' 'f these kids, Coop. But ain't no one tellin' me that my baby don't deserve anythin' less than what I might get for doin' less than she did. And *for* less too." Still, she struggles to keep her tone calm. At Knox's handing of the rank pins, she looks up at him, questioning. "What's this?"

Cooper watches that blank face while Kostas speaks. His jaw clamps and eventually he has to look away. He watches a passing nurse and then drifts his eyes slowly back to Piper. "They stopped being civilians when they picked up a rifle, Sil," he whispers. "They stopped being a lot of things." This is obviously hard for him, but not because there is some kind of disconnect. There's just a lot of emotion running through him and he clears his throat before taking a long breath. He nods to the pins and looks to Kostas. "I can get more. She can't. I wish I could offer them to every kid here but even if its just one.. frak." He sighs and looks away again, shaking his head.

Kostas listens, and nods after a moment. "Yeah." She takes the pins with her free hand, turning them over gently in them before bending to fasten them to Piper's gown, right where they should be. "You know it, an' I know it, Coop. Suspect them brassers do too. But what folks know ain't always what they acknowledge. Hope t' change that someday, maybe. Though a little scared'f what it'd take, where it couldn't be ignored." The orderly is almost on them now, offering a quiet, "Sir, Sergeant?" He's given them time, but there are others waiting. Kostas stands, though doesn't loose her grip on the girl's hand as the orderly extubates her. The drip is left in. He doesn't stick around long; the extra time in getting there means that there's less time now to get it to whoever's waiting for it. As soon as the tubes are clear though, Kostas slips to Piper's side, half sitting on the thin gurney. Ignoring protocol she gathers the girl in her arms part way, resting the battered head on her chest and shoulder. Keeping the airway as open as possible, but it's a familiar battlefield maneuver when all hope is lost and you want to give someone as peaceful a way to go as possible…being held. "I'm sorry, baby. I'm sorry. You braver than me times twenty." Kostas whispers, closing her eyes for a moment. "You earned yer stripes. Some other kid ain't gonna have to be where you are, because 'f what you did."

Knox just looks on as the girl gets set up with his stripes and he doesn't look like the same guy. He's a Marine in the way he's dressed but that is obviously a guy in pain, watching something that nobody should have to see. Watching that tube removed, it looks like Knox was just gutted cleanly with a single swipe. When Kostas sits on the gurney he steps closer up behind her and looks down on the girl and just shakes his head. He wants ot do something… but its horrific to feel helpless. "Find the Corps and your family up there, Piper," he whispers. "Hope to meet you one day."

In the vids, this would be the moment where sleeping beauty would awaken, or the power of the gods would pour out a miracle. But it's not a propaganda film, and the gods may have other things on their minds; or a greater web that will remain untouched or even strengthend by the snipping of one thread however gossamer new. There's no flicker of recogniton, though there is some eye movement under thin lids, and soft shallow breaths. But they're uneven without the machine. "Forgive me." Kostas whispers, but it's hard to know if she's speaking to the girl or not. So much pain wrapped up in those two words. Around them, the activity in the triage center goes on. Silvia's eyes are closed, tears rolling down her cheeks, but she doesn't sob. Some wounds just run too deep.

Cooper watches over Kostas shoulder, noticing those eyes move. He can only imagine what's happing inside that mind. Those breaths getting shorter. The man's jaw tightens with his throat and he wipes once at his face as he looks away. He wets his lips, swiping again and then he rests a hand on Kostas' other shoulder. "Semper Fidels," he breathes.

Finally it comes, the death rattle and sigh; though having been tubed for so long there's not any of the more graphic death effects that happen when the body finally lets go, at least none super evident. Kostas keeps Piper close though, her face blank as she opens her eyes, not yet willing to let the girl go. The orderlies give them space, and Kostas does not pull away from the hand on her shoulder. She just keeps her lips and nose buried against scrubby hair and hardening scar tissue. Her own breathing hard and labored. She doesn't speak, maybe she can't. It's only when they're finally approached by another gurney, and this one with a body bag unzipped and open that she moves again beyond rocking the teen in her arms. She tries to gather her up, but despite the atrophy, the teen is probably as tall as Kostas herself is, and recovering from her own injuries she's just not strong enough. She glances up to Knox, as raw and vulnerable as he's ever seen…or is likely to see again. "Can you help, Coop? I can't…" it's a hard admission and one that breaks her raspy voice, but it's clear, she wants her marine transfered by another.

Knox doesn't move as the girl's life expires and Kostas just holds on to her. There's nothing he can do except be there and try to keep himself in check, despite how hard that is. Watching this girl die like this just brings up too much unresolved stuff in his own mind and he tries to push it away… but when he looks back she's still there. And so is the gurney behind them. He steps back to allow Kostas to carry her, but seeing the injured officer move like that? Hearing the request, he dips his head. "Of course." Its barely a whisper. He takes the girl up in his arms and looks down at her there for a few moments. In those few seconds he's somewhere else, but eventually he comes back around and turns to lay the body in the bag. He's extremely careful to be gentle about it and takes every pain to ensure she's not jostled too much. But once she's down, he steps back and just stares. There's too many emotions on his face to get a good read but there's pain in those eyes.

Kostas leans against the old gurney for a moment, sweat dappling her forhead. She relaxes as Knox takes the girl though, and handles her as gently as she would if she was capable. She steps forward once the sergeant steps back, and bends forward to kiss the cooling forehead, to ruffle the blond hair one more time, and whisper something soft against the seamed skin, and something definitely not in standard. One of the orderlies reaches for the zipper, but Kostas lifts one side of her mouth in a silent snarl and her hand moves towards the zipper herself—and he backs off. Slowly she zips up the bag, up and over the paling face. As the gurney starts to be wheeled off, to wherever it's going, Kostas' bandaged hand clenches into a fist, her jaw tightening. There's a flicker of guilt there too. "Sorry, Knox," she says quietly. "Guess prob'ly y' didn't need t' see that." Her voice is calm though, at odds with her face.

Knox lets Kostas have her last private moments with the girl before she's zipped up. He doesn't try to get too close or eavesdrop on what she has passed between them. Coop just stands there, hand hanging off the sling of the rifle on his shoulder and his other arm limp at his side. He doesn't look at the Ensign, though. Those eyes stay on the gurney as its wheeled away. "Don't apologize, sir. Thank you for trusting me with that." Knox's normally quiet voice is hard to hear over the din of voices in the room, but its not meant for everyone.

Silvia's eyes remain focused on the gurney as it goes as well, as she struggles to rule her face, grimacing with that tight jaw. Her injured hand clenches and unclenches, slowly. Counting down. "'S fair, Sarge," she tells him quietly. "Pain shared. If another marine ain't got your back when you got it bare t' the wind, I don't know who gonna." She closes her eyes briefly. "I gotta get the fuck out of here before I punch somethin'. Or at least find somethin' better'n cinderblock." The words are tough, the body is tense, but her eyes are for the moment unguarded, devastated. For a few moments more, the eyes of a mother. And probably one of the reasons why Spree isn't too keen to have *her* on Picon as one of the resistance forces anymore.

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